Doom and Gloom- Playing Catch-Up: Part 1
Alright, we’re back like a heart attack from a greasy snack in a plastic sack, and, boy, have there been more than a few awesome doom, sludge, and doom-adjacent releases in the time of our absence. For the time being, I’m gonna abandon the long-form review style in favor of the beloved mini to cast a wider net. Hopefully, I can make up in quantity what I’m gonna lack in depth here.
First up, from Adelaide, South Australia, we’ve got trad doom monsters, Lucifer’s Fall, with their third full length album, III- From the Deep. I’m not gonna dance around it: III is all killer no filler. It’s not often that a doom album scratches the same headbanging itch that good thrash does, but III is more than up to the task.
Part of Lucifer’s Fall’s success lies in the fact that while III is planted firmly in the realm of traditional doom, there is also seemingly a Venom influence that shows that the band is by no means allergic to speed. On “Man of God”, Lucifer’s Fall displays an ability to crawl with the best of them, but on “Doom ‘N’ Roll”, they let that First Wave of black metal flag fly free to awesome effect.
This brings me to another thing I really enjoy about III: how delightfully evil it is. Aside from all the talk of the Ancient Ones and Satan, there’s a malicious swagger at play here via the interplay of swinging grooves and fantastic harmonies. The insane preacher vibe given off by the vocalist certainly doesn’t hurt, either. He’s got a sort of better, more passionate Wino thing going on. Hell, all the musicians here are great. They’re not really show-offs, but I’ll be damned if I can hear anything wrong with any of their performances.
All in all, III is one of the best takes on traditional doom I’ve heard in years. Give these Aussie guys and girls a chance. You won’t be disappointed.
III- From the Deep is out now via Sun and Moon Records. Get it here.
Next up, we’ve got The Hunger Artist Show, the noise rock/sludge debut from Greece’s Gynoid.
If you’ve ever wondered what it would sound like if Babes in Toyland skinned Bauhaus, wore them like suits, and then listened to nothing but Unsane and Eyehategod for three weeks, you might find Gynoid interesting.
This is sludge with the punk element pushed all the way to the front, complete with moments of completely unhinged frenzy and biting social commentary. According to the band, The Hunger Artist Show is an indictment of racism, misogyny, and marginalization of the mentally ill, amongst other things.
The music serves to highlight Gynoid’s disgust with society’s cruelty, as the music in the Hunger Artist Show has a constant feeling of nausea and madness. Everything from the dissonant chords to the staggering rhythms of the tracks serve to infect the listener with an unshakable sense of discomfort. The choice to not downtune the instruments even adds to the strange quality of the songs, as it only makes the dissonance sharper than it would be if Gynoid had chosen to bring a layer of fuzz to the table. The vocals in particular have a deranged quality that is very distinctive. Listen to “Mannequin” with me, and see if you don’t also feel fucked up afterwards.
Like its namesake short story, The Hunger Artist Show is both disturbing and compelling. This is another fantastic debut to add to the already staggering mass of incredible debuts this year.
The Hunger Artist Show is out now. Get it here.
Last in line for today, we’ve got Kayo Dot with Moss Grew on the Swords and Plowshares Alike. I’m gonna come clean: I’ve never really listened to Kayo Dot before this. I know that they are perpetual favorites of many here, but one can only listen to so much music, and they’ve just managed to dodge my playlist. So, I’m coming into this with virgin ears. I don’t know if this is gonna make me this a better or worse review than if I’d heard it before. Fuck it. Let’s get to it.
Given what folks have said about Kayo Dot, I fully expected Moss to be an absolute mindfuck of an album. I was as right as Newt Gingrich falling off the starboard wing of a north bound jet. Stylistically, this baby is all over the place with the only consistencies being minimalist drumming, heavy effects, and a penchant for glacial pacing. Trying to pin down Moss to any particular genre is an exercise in futility, as there is as much post-punk, shoegaze, and ambient here as there is doom and black metal.
For example, the first track (and my personal favorite), “The Knight Errant” plays like a crawling post-black version of a Nightbringer piece with its piercing tremolo riffing and haunting synths and keyboards. Then, by the time we arrive at the single, “Void in Virgo”, the mood and style has shifted to a surrealist ballad with strong The Cure and The Mars Volta vibes. Keep in mind, though, the similarities with other bands are only a reference point for me to give you guys some sort of footing. Moss is really hard to compare to anything else. While there is definitely a nucleus of metal and goth here, that center is so nebulous as to be nearly meaningless as means to describe what’s going on here. Hell, the only reason I feel comfortable including it in this column is its relentless dedication to a lack of speed. Even that is a weird one, as the sluggish pace of the songs is still unpredictable because of the often bizarre time signatures and rhythms that compose said slow songs.
Moss is something that absolutely needs to be heard at least once. Just expect to be bewildered. You’re gonna scratch your head way more than you’re gonna bang it. In a year of weird ass releases, Moss is still weird.
Moss Grew on the Swords and Plowshares Alike comes out October 29th via Prophesy Productions. Get it here.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned as I try to highlight some of the upcoming cool doom and sludge releases, while I also attempt to bring attention to some really cool stuff I couldn’t quite get to earlier this year. We’ll be back much sooner than usual. There’s probably gonna be two or more sessions of catching up to do before we go back to normal.